U.S. Air Force Aviation Detachment
The mission of the Aviation Detachment (Av-Det) is to strengthen cooperation between the key NATO allies through regular joint training exercises and rotational deployment of U.S. military aircraft beginning in 2013.
While types of visiting U.S. aircraft will vary, the squadrons will include F-16 or C-130 planes, accompanied by up to 250 uniformed military personnel and civilian contractors. Aircraft and personnel will rotate on a quarterly basis. The presence of a U.S. Av-Det in Poland will also make it possible for Poland to host other Allied Air Force elements and to serve as a regional hub for air training and multi-national exercises.
The goal of this increased cooperation between the United States and Polish Air Forces is to strengthen interoperability as NATO Allies through regular combined training exercises and military-to-military engagement. The four annual aircraft rotations will primarily consist of F-16 or C-130 aircraft which will conduct a minimum of two weeks of flying each rotation. Two of the four rotations are intended to be with USAF F-16 aircraft. U.S. and Polish officials continue to work on implementing arrangements which will further detail the cooperation, such as coordinating on objectives for each rotation. The Av-Det facilitates bilateral and eventually multinational joint training exercises while optimizing the use of Poland’s ranges and airspace and enhancing interoperability of both countries’ flight tactics and maneuvers. The detachment will also enhance daily interactions at all levels (officer/NCO cooperation and education), and capitalize on US/Poland processes to continue to build strong partnerships. The Av-Det will support joint and coalition forces with fast, reliable transport and medical evacuation.
U.S. Air Force 52nd Fighter Wing
In support of NATO and combatant command authorities, the 52nd Fighter Wing maintains, deploys and employs fighter aircraft and theater airspace control capability and supports strategic mobility operations. The 52nd FW maintains, deploys and employs F-16 and A-10 aircraft and TPS-75 radar systems in support of NATO and the national defense directives. The wing supports the Supreme Allied Commander Europe with mission-ready personnel and systems providing expeditionary air power for suppression of enemy air defenses, close air support, air interdiction, counter air, air strike control, strategic attack, combat search and rescue, and theater airspace control. The wing also supports contingencies and operations other than war as required.
The 52nd Fighter Wing conducts operations at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, one of 16 major operating locations in U.S. Air Forces in Europe. The wing is authorized about 5,560 active-duty members and about 210 Department of Defense civilians. The wing is organized with five groups responsible for operations, maintenance, mission support and medical operations, as well as headquarters staff. It is assigned 24 F-16 Fighting Falcons, 18 A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and two TPS-75 radars to provide expeditionary combat capability in mission areas of suppression of enemy air defenses, close air support, air interdiction, counter air, air strike control, combat search and rescue, and theater airspace control. In concert with USAFE wings at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, the 52nd FW directly supports the strategic mobility mission once conducted at Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany.
The wing provides logistics support for C-17 Globemaster and C-5 Galaxy aircraft, crew, passengers and cargo to sustain air mobility operations throughout Europe, Africa and Southwest Asia. The 52nd Operations Group consists of two flying squadrons, the 480th and 81st Fighter Squadrons, the 606th Air Control Squadron and an operations support squadron.
The 480th Fighter Squadron operates the F-16 C/D Fighting Falcon, and 81st Fighter Squadron operates the A-10 Thunderbolt II. The 480th FS pilots primarily perform the Wild Weasel mission of suppression or destruction of enemy air defenses, and are also trained for interdiction and counter air operations. Their F-16s are outfitted with high-speed anti-radiation missiles, joint direct attack munitions, laser-guided bombs, GPS-guided-inertial aided munitions and the HARM targeting system pod, making the aircraft a lethal platform against enemy air defense systems. The 81st FS pilots fly the A-10, informally referred to as the „Warthog,” to provide close air support of ground forces, air strike control, and combat search and rescue missions. The A-10 is armed with a 30mm 7-barrel Gatling gun, which carries 1,150 rounds and fires 70 rounds per second. The aircraft can carry up to 16,000 pounds of free-fall and precision-guided munitions, AGM-65 Maverick missiles, AIM-9 air-to-air infrared missiles, illumination flares, 2.75-inch rockets, and a full complement of self-protective chaff and flares.
The 606th Air Control Squadron - the „Inspectors of the Skies” - employ AN/TPS-75 radars, the modular control equipment system and tactical communications to provide deployable theater battle management. The squadron conducts 24-hour operations providing command and control for air surveillance, identification, weapons control, and airspace control and management. The unit supports and maintains robust communications to provide secure, beyond-the-line-of-sight voice and data link connectivity with Army, Navy, NATO and other allied forces as part of a theater-wide communications network.
The 52nd Maintenance Group consists of four squadrons: aircraft maintenance, component maintenance, equipment maintenance and maintenance operations. The group directly supports the 52nd FW by providing safe, reliable maintenance to a mixed wing of F-16 and A-10 aircraft, support equipment and munitions resources.
The 52nd Mission Support Group consists of civil engineer, communications, contracting, logistics readiness, security forces and force support squadrons.
The 52nd Medical Group consists of aerospace medicine, dental, medical operations and medical support squadrons. The medical group operates an outpatient clinic at Spangdahlem and Bitburg ABs, which includes family practice, pediatrics, women’s health, psychiatry, aerospace medicine and optometry with exceptional clinical laboratory, radiology, pharmacy and physical therapy support.
The 52nd Munitions Maintenance Group provides four fully capable U.S. munitions support squadrons responsible for the ownership, custody, accountability and release of war reserve munitions supporting Belgian, Dutch, German and Italian air forces. The MMG receives, stores, maintains, controls and employs $2.5 billion of U.S. protection level 1 assets in direct support of NATO contingency, wartime and strike missions. The 52nd MMG has a 14-person staff that provides command leadership and support for more than 550 active-duty personnel from 26 Air Force specialty codes at their four geographically separated units.
All five 52nd FW groups directly support the mission to provide strategic, theater and contract commercial air mobility capability for Europe, Africa and Southwest Asia. Spangdahlem’s 726th Air Mobility Squadron provides command and control, logistics, and aerial port capabilities to every Air Mobility Command aircraft transiting through Spangdahlem AB. The base primarily handles C-17 and C-5 aircraft. The aircraft carry fully equipped, combat-ready military units to any point in the world on short notice and provide field support to sustain the fighting force. Whether employing fighter aircraft and theater airspace control capability or supporting strategic mobility operations, the wing continues to be a key asset to European security and NATO, providing domineering expeditionary air power well into the 21st century. U.S. Air Force Fact Sheet.
Major pilot Matthew Spears
Major Matthew R. Spears, a senior pilot with more than 1600 flying hours, assumed command of the United States Air Force Aviation Detachment at Lask Air Base. The Aviation Detachment is the first full-time presence of U.S. troops in Poland. U.S. Ambassador to Poland Lee A. Feinstein said that the first commander of the U.S. Air Force Aviation Detachment will be one of the most important diplomats in Poland.”
American and Polish F-16s and C-130s will conduct joint training exercises at Lask, Krzesiny, and, Powidz airbases, strengthening our countries’ military cooperation and interoperability. Up to a squadron of F-16s and C-130s will fly into and out of Lask, Powidz, and Krzesiny air bases beginning next year, fulfilling the commitment Presidents Barack Obama and Bronisław Komorowski announced in a Joint Statement issued after their meeting in Washington in December 2010.
Source: Press Section, Air Force Command